Alan “F3 Zorro” (Chief Disruption Officer) “Blake” Blakeborough, Co-Founder of Tax Titans

Episode Transcription

Glenn Harper

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another edition of Empowering Entrepreneurs podcast. I’m Glenn Harper. Julie Smith. What’s going on, Julie? You know, enjoying coffee and water this morning. That’s a just not hydrated today or something? Normally, you just do the coffee. I know. I’m trying to be better. Good girl. Well, we have a special guest today. I’m gonna mess up everything on what I wanna talk to this guy about, but I’m gonna do my best here. We’ve got Alan, F30, Blake, Blakenborough. He’s a madman. This guy never sleeps and enjoys entrepreneurship so much that he’d rather open a business and sit at the beach. He is the co-founder of Tax Titans, a company that specializes in helping small businesses and individuals with their tax filings with the entire company staffed by veterans or spouses of veterans. He is also the pretty face behind the Knights of Knights of Ciena Fencing Academy. This is not fencing like a fence or dog. It’s more like fencing like a foil, a pei, or saber. This where you can legally stab the people you don’t like and not go to jail, which is cool. Well, thank you, Blake, for your service in the military, and thanks for being on a show.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Oh, well, I appreciate your support and look forward to telling you guys about tax titans and all the exciting things that we plan on doing with the tax and the accounting industry over the next couple of years. Well, we don’t really care about that. We really care about you and your entrepreneurial journey. I’m just I’m just kidding.

Glenn Harper

00:01:1900:01:25

Oh, no. Well so we kinda the question on the table is, are you originally from Troy, New York?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Yes. I am. I grew up in South Troy. So if you know Troy at all, there’s Troy and South Troy. And the big joke is it’s South Troy. — versus the world, and we’re gonna get cream. So — Nice. Well, what I was trying to figure out is it it looks like

Glenn Harper

You know, you moved to South Carolina at some point, but you sound like you have a North Carolina accent. So what’s that all about? Did you just try to adapt wherever you were?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Nope. When I first moved down from New York, I first started in Charlotte, North Carolina. And then as as opening fencing schools in the southeast wound up discovering that I enjoyed South Carolina more than North Carolina because as a friend of mine said, any state that allows you to buy alcohol,

Glenn Harper

gasoline and fireworks all in the same building is a state that’s living on the edge. So that’s South Carolina. That’s my kind of people. I I thought when I stalked here, you end up moving at one point to Troy, North Carolina?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

No. Okay. I’ve been in nope. Just Charlotte, and I’ve lived in the surrounding area. That’s all. That would be very ironic. That’s cool. So so South Carolina is home. And, you know, at some point, you know, you were when you grew up, what made you decide that you wanted to go to college to be an accountant? I mean, that’s a really good calling to wanna do that.


Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Yeah. So it being an accountant came from the desire at one point, I was looking at going into the FBI. Uh-huh. And going into the FBI, one of the things that they tell you is if you have an accounting degree, You’ve got a better chance of getting into the bureau. So it was like, okay. Then I’ll go get an accounting degree that’ll allow me to then go work in forensic accounting and possibly work for the FBI.

Glenn Harper

How about that? So Did you you completed your degree and got your got the became an account. Did you wanna be a CPA then or just to get an accounting degree?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Just getting a county degree. Really had no desire to ever be an accountant. I had no desire to do tax is no desire to work in public or even in manufacturing.

Glenn Harper

So the fact that, you know, now on the, you know, founder and CEO of Tax Titans is God’s way of telling me that he has a a real sense of humor. So I gotta tell you, cut me real deep that you didn’t wanna be an accountant. You know? It it hurt me. But look at you. You’re getting sucked right back into it. It’s the craziest thing, isn’t it?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Yes. It is. It it is it is really funny. The bunch of my friends that I went to Sienna with or alumni constantly give me ribbing and joking that, you know, I I’m you know, working to do a lot of things to improve the industry

Glenn Harper

and if they were to take any one of their classmates that they thought wasn’t gonna be doing this, I would be the guy. So — But you certainly don’t even look like an you know, you look like an accountant. And because if you saw my picture, I used to have mullet and everything. So we we are trying we’re trendsetters here, baby. We’re trendsetters.

Julie Smith

I really wanna know — When I really wanna know is what it what was the driving force behind wanting to be in the FBI?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

So when I was in high school. I originally wanted to be an attorney. Went to a law presentation in my senior high school, and the lady that was giving the presentation for the law portion of the career day took off her suit coat and she had a 357 magnum strapped to her side. And everybody was like, what kind of lawyer has a gun strapped to her side? She’s like, I’m in law. I’m not a practicing attorney. I work for the FBI, and then she explained everything that the FBI does. everything they do with investigative crimes, you know, what her life has been like as an agent, and I was like, that’s what I wanna do.

Glenn Harper

Wow. So you didn’t wanna do did you you didn’t wanna do the attorney route to get in. You wanted to do this the accountant route. Correct? That’s how you hudges decide that. I would

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

00:05:3200:05:56

I was planning on doing the attorney thing, but in order to go to law school, you have to have a 4 year degree anyways. So what better way than to have a for your accounting degree and then have a law degree. And that’s then also how I wind up getting into the military because the people at the bureau is like, oh, if you’ve got military experience, That’s another checkbox to, you know, put you in the front of the line as far as getting into the bureau.

Glenn Harper

So so the motivation was to be in the FBI, work for the no name agencies, and and fight crime and do those kind of things investigative and things. And to get there, the path had to be accountant and you do the military. Did you how long do you stay in the military for? So between active and reserve about seven and a half years. Gotcha. Did at any time when you’re in the military go, man. This is great. They pay me to break stuff and blow things up. I wanna stay there, or did you say no? I wanna stay on the path for mill for the FBI.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

So what you’re in the military, it’s a lot of fun to think that they pay you to jump out of airplanes and do all kinds of stuff that normally everybody tells you you’re not allowed to do. But, you know, one of the unfortunate things in the military is there’s a lot of paperwork in the officer ranks. And as you get on and on and on, the amount of paperwork that you do is a lot based on the government. And Although you love doing stuff with the troops, I’m not the type of guy that likes a whole lot of bureaucracy and paperwork.

Glenn Harper

It is that when you decided that, hey. I don’t even think the FBI is for me? Or, again, we’re all is always curious what is that event that changed your course of destiny that you wanted to go. And and was it that?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

So what wound up happening was the Clinton presidency, there was a hiring freeze on the FBI because they were combining and coming up with the small government model and they wanted to take the bureau, the tobacco, and firearms, and the DEA, and combine them. So in the absence of having an employed route to join the bureau, I was like, hey. What other things do I like doing? and I was an avid center in college. Really enjoyed the sport. So I was like, okay. My first entrepreneurial journey was opening up fencing schools in South Florida in the nineties.

Glenn Harper

Is and how did again, I’m just curious. Most people will play soccer or baseball or football. How in the heck did you get fencing? Did your school was it big enough to even have that program, or how did you get turned on to that?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

So there was a local college next to the high school that I was at. that came and did a fencing demonstration because they were trying to get kids involved into the sport. And from the aspect of, you know, what you know, guy doesn’t like to beat other people with metal sticks. I thought it was, you know, really cool. It was an individual sport. I wasn’t a big team sport type of guy during high school, so got into it. Really enjoyed it. And then When I was in college, we, you know, would share space in the gym, and we used to always joke around that, you know, it’d be nice if fencing had dedicated facilities kinda like martial arts throughout the United States. And so, you know, when I was thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I was like, Let me let me try to do that whole fencing school thing that, you know, over our 4 years of college, we always talked about would be a great business model.

Glenn Harper

So the hiring freeze made you have to pivot and do something different. And you said this might be the thing. Did, you know, did you have any in your family or centers of influence of people that were entrepreneurs that you could say, oh, I’ll just do what they did because they looked at like it worked out for them, or did you just you would like the first one to do this?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Nope. My my father was a a Vietnam vet. and was kind of forced to be an entrepreneur because when he came back from Vietnam, I’m trying to find a conventional job Vietnam vets weren’t very well received when they got home. Unlike today where a lot of people thank the service, And in the absence of him having any type of career that he could do, the only thing that he was able to do was basically set up his own business and began his entrepreneurial journey. He does a story with me when he was still with us telling us that after being rejected by his caseworker three times to go find a job that he grabbed all the pencils off of her desk and said I have a family feed. And if you’re not gonna find me a job, I guess I’ll go sell these in the street. So that began this entrepreneurial journey. He first started with doing and delivering newspapers, bundles to paper boys to then growing it into a moving company in the Albany connecting Troy area, then him and his other Vietnam buddies opened up bars and restaurants and, you know, that that was his whole thing. which was funny, you know, when I decided that I was gonna be going to college for an accounting degree, he thought that was great because then I could do the books for all of his business. You clean up the books for them. So you then have to keep 2 sets. I love it. You know, it’s

Glenn Harper

it’s funny how, you know, I’d imagine if your dad is who I bet he is. I bet you he took you on a lot of those in adventures. Right? And and you kinda get immersed into all that, which is what good dads do. Right? and give you a little taste of everything, which had to be just awesome.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

00:11:0900:11:12

It was definitely a venture growing up as a kid.

Glenn Harper

Yeah. The you know, it’s it’s funny your dad had to learn to thrive in the chaos and raise his family. So instead of, you know, being nervous about it, he just kind of embraced it and just went with it. And you are probably I don’t know if you again, this is the tricky part. Like, we just never know with people like you know, you saw him hustling, and you said, well, either I wanna be a hustler or I wanna go and get a real job. and and have and do this thing. And, ultimately, you end up you’re now a hustler. Right? And when I say hustler, an entrepreneur. Right? You’re gonna make it start every day negative. So, you know, did you were you trying to get away from what he was doing, or you just wanna go get educated and do this path Did you know what’s gonna go back full circle?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

No. I didn’t. I fully expected to, you know, have a career possibly in the government. I mean, I did that in military, it’s one of those things where sometimes you’re taking orders and following a chain of command from somebody that you don’t feel is, you know, up to snuff or up to par. or you think that there’s a better way of doing it, but you’re restricted as kind of somebody within the chain of command or somebody who’s a subordinate at a corporate job. that, you know, although you might think you could do something better or you think of a way of doing it, you know, or have an innovation, A lot of times, you’re shackled or hamstrung to be able to do that. And knowing that, you know, watching my father being able to pivot or change based on what his customers needed that, you know, basically, was my rebellion as I started working in you know, corporate and in the military world to go, okay. You know, I’m probably been already, you know, shown the right way to do things which people in corporate or in bureaucracies would say is the wrong way to do that. Mhmm.

Glenn Harper

So Julie, do you think you’d be good having somebody tell you what to do all day long? No. Not at all. entrepreneurs are just so program different. They’re like, I don’t think so. Let let me do it my way. So When you when you started the fencing thing, again, I a little bit of, you know, background for our guests, you know, that thing took off. You you went to or on TV, did a lot of cool things with it. But, ultimately, it’s about, you know, sponsorships and viewership that would make that thing handle the way it is. So you had to ultimately scale back at some point. Is that how that went?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

So it went in the aspect that when we opened the 1st schools, down in Florida, we got a lot of ribbing from the traditionalists that we were creating a McDonald’s method of training folks to which they were actually calling them expensors until our students started actually beating the traditional students that came from you know, a pedigree of, oh, this person studied under this master and this master and this master. I joke around a lot that it’s the same type of journey that Bruce Lee had when he started his dojo’s here in the United States from getting a lot of flack from traditional martial artists. So for us, once once we got up into, you know, identifying and trying to grow the sport is when we got it on television and then wound up going head to head with some of the traditional type of folks who had a vision of what fencing should be and how it should be conducted as a competition.

Glenn Harper

So do people call you master as well? because you got 30 names. Is that one of them? Yep. So well, one of them so inventing they’re called Maestro’s. Kinda like a Maestro of music. So so do you still competitively do that, or you just teach?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

I teach. I was doing veteran events up until the pandemic. So that’s kinda gone on hold. And tax titans has literally consumed my entire life So any amount of time to train and be able to do anything competitive for myself is kinda on the back burner. I will be in Phoenix, Arizona towards the end of this month with about 6 of my students as they compete at the national championships.

Julie Smith

So walk me through how you go from fencing to tax titans. So

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

a friend of mine owns a tax practice in Greenville, South Carolina. He’s had it for 15 years. He knew that I did a time as a recruiter for Robert Half International recruiting accountants. And this past tax season well, in tax season 2022, he gave me a call and said, hey. I’ve got a problem. You used to be a recruiter. Help can you help me out? I was like, sure. What do you need? And he was like, well, you know, I’ve got about a 1000 clients. I have 3 other accounts who were working at my firm. However, they, 1, had a hard one went out with COVID. The other one got picked up by a regional accounting firm. So from that aspect, can you come in and help? So when in

Julie Smith

So wait. Let me get this right. You were also a recruiter at some point. Robert Half. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. No. He knew the business. Yep.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Yep. So came down, worked about 5 hours on the phone, basically came to the conclusion. No one was out there to save him and his practice. I joked around with him. I said, look. I haven’t done somebody else’s taxes in 20 years. You do all the taxes for all of my small businesses. I guess I can, you know, help you out for a month through tax season and then help you recruit people in the off season so that in 2023, you can attack this. No problem.

Glenn Harper

Question. Question. I’m sorry. He was like — Question. Were you were you working for Robert Half at the time? That was just in the okay. That was in the past. Okay. — worked for Robert Half from about 2 1998, 99 till about 2003. Got it. So this is his way back blasting your past, but he remembered. Okay. Continue. Oh, yeah.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

So so after a month of helping him out, things were great. I learned Drake Software, which is an awesome piece of software to train somebody to do taxes and, you know, keep you on the straight and narrow of their customer service. probably help me with more tax questions than professors did at Sienna College. But towards the end of tax season, you know, they had more clients that wanted to get their stuff filed by, at the time, April 18th that year — Mhmm. — that didn’t want an extension I said to him, I said we got about 300 people left that have small businesses. There’s not enough hours in the day. Why don’t we take half of these? and farm them out to the other accountants in Greenville who’ve got the capacity, pay them a 100% of the fees, keeps customers happy, and then at least have the opportunity to keep the clients happy. He was like, okay. He agreed to do that. And I said, okay. Well, what online marketplace? What networking tool can I use to talk to other accountants to get this work done? And he was like, well, nothing like that exists in the accounting world. And I was like, that’s impossible. Amazon can have any physical product on my doorstep in 24 hours. We’ve been paying taxes in the United States for a 121 years with Uber, Airbnb, you know, pricelinehotels.com, how was there not some online marketplace for accountants to work with other accountants or for taxpayers to find a tax professional. And that literally then began the last year, which has been my life. So

Glenn Harper

So question for you. Do you think it sounded like the that accountant was kinda just paralyzed of what to do Do you think it was the watching your dad have to keep change all the time and you were involved in that? You were able to make those decisions quickly? Do you think it was because you’re or in fencing and you have to make immediately drastic changes quickly. How did you come in and what you just said? You’re like, boom boom boom boom. Here’s what we’re gonna do. and he you are a leader. How how did that where do you think that leadership came? Or was it the military? Where where do you think We definitely

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

definitely is the military. The military all about especially if you’re in the combat branches, it’s like here’s an objective. You have to achieve it. If you have path a doesn’t work, then you have a contingency plan of path b, c, d, and you’re either going over, under, or through to get to the object of failure is not an option. I mean, granted, we’re dealing with taxes here, and the worst thing that happens is the government comes and takes all your toys. But in the military, a lot of the times you’re dealing with, you know, the livelihood and or lives of people. So That sense of urgency, that sense of responsibility is kinda ingrained in you as of day 1.

Glenn Harper

It’s funny as a as an accountant, you know, the somebody’s tax return or financials or those things, it is literally the most important thing in the world for them. Like, there is nothing more important. The the stress and anxiety that the the taxes put on somebody on a in a an individual, It is it is almost like life and death. It’s not as a preparer. We know that, but it it appears that way. So anytime you can bring that solution I mean, that is what really why that relationship exists between the accountant and their client is because they know they’re gonna get their problem solved, which is the tax return completed.

Julie Smith

So tell me what — And the one thing go ahead. No. No. No. You go ahead.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

And that’s one of the things that amazed me in talking talking with other solo practitioners, small firms over the last year is that everybody has the same dedication of serving their clients, which is absolutely amazing in an industry. However, the fact that there is no network like we had in staffing that allows them to work with other professionals that have that same drive, that same amount of dedication to their clients to be able to help each other out in order to achieve those objectives. It’s like in the military, we have, you know, the army, the marines, the air force, and the navy, and we all give each other a hard time as to which one is the best branch. But, you know, when we go into combat, when we go in and do stuff, you know, we as a joint forces, you know, basically work together to achieve the mission. And sometimes you rely on more on your brother today than you did tomorrow and then the same thing for them. So to see an industry that didn’t have that esprit de corps, so to speak, is something that, you know, for the last year, my team who is, you know, a group of veterans and stuff has been trying to bring to the right. Have you

Glenn Harper

have you identified what the real cause of why accountants don’t talk to other accountants as yet? Have you figured that out? I’d give you a hint.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

I’d love to hear your your reasoning first.

Julie Smith

So I have a feeling it’s not gonna be real.

Glenn Harper

Well, I think well, here’s I think because I was that guy way back when, and the premise was that you talk to another accountant. Not only are they gonna take your clients because that’s what accountants do. They’ll take your clients from you, but they might take your knowledge, and and we can’t have anybody take your knowledge. So we just live in the quantum of solace, and we would rather struggle ourselves then ask for help or to have some camaraderie with another accountant. The second you get an accountant to talk to another accountant, and they feel like they’re in a safe space, They’ll show share everything, but they are so reserved because somebody’s gonna take their clients, judge them, or take their secrets. And that’s not not the case. Accountants don’t operate that. I’m not gonna take somebody else’s clients. I really thought you were gonna say it’s because you can’t talk through a 10 key. Well, I mean, that’s obvious, but but all counts. I can spell hello if it’s upside down. It’s really cool. Is that what you’ve come up with?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

That that’s what I’ve experienced. And one of the nice things of what we’ve done coming from outside the industry and a lot of their programming and stuff that we’ve done is allowed us to be able to tell account, hey. You can work with another accountant and have all the personal information redacted and not known to the other accountant So the work’s getting done, but you keep in maintaining that relationship with your client so that the fear of them stealing your client goes away. And that, for most of them, is like, oh, I never knew a system like that could be invented. And I’m like, yeah. 20, 30 years ago, this not might not have existed. Mhmm. But now with all the banking information, FINRA, all the stuff that exists with the SEC, there is a lot of things in fintech that allow people to share work but still maintain the relationship with the clients without them worrying about losing that relationship or losing that client as a customer.

Julie Smith

And so I’m gonna go backwards here because I just wanna really get into your journey as you started tax titans. I know it’s only been a year. So your friend obviously needs some help. You’ve identified this solution and you make it, let’s say, till April 18th. And then what happens?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

So then I actually went to talk to a friend who’s got a custom software company who’s the CEO. And he was like, I’ll take a look. Make sure that nothing like this already exists. You don’t waste your money. And then he came and said, okay. There’s thumbtack and up works. That’s about it. And then we began the journey as far as making the, you know, most viable product or the MVP, and then got introduced to an association called the National Association of Monroe Agents. I’m ashamed to say that I have sat for the CPA exam. I have a degree in accounting. I didn’t even know what an enrolled agent was. and come to find out that there’s, you know, this whole group of individuals, they invited us to be able to, you know, come and participate in their national event in Las Vegas last June. Yeah. Got to talk to a lot of enrolled agents. they thought we were a building was great. And then that spiraled into a meeting with Climb and then the meeting with Drake. John SAP, was an amazing guy that was, like, you’re literally solving a problem that has existed for 50 years in accounting, and you guys have figured out a way to solve that.

Glenn Harper

you know, this kind of stuff just gives me goosebumps. Like, you didn’t even you had 0.0 desire to do this or didn’t even know if it existed, and that is the true to form for an entrepreneur that we see things to a different lens. Right? Instead of looking at obstacles, we look at opportunities. And my goodness, you took that and went with it, and you’re just at the very beginning of it for this. And I I can’t imagine where this thing’s gonna head out because you’re always willing to change and figure this thing out. So that is really cool.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Yeah. For us, the big thing is when we went to the engage conference for the AICPA in Vegas a couple weeks ago, We got invited by Drake Software to go out as a partner. They thought the things that we were working on, the things that we were looking to do, had a great, you know, benefit to the industry and the AICPA, you know you know, that that whole CPA designation is something that a lot of accounts look to be able to get. So from our standpoint, it was like, hey, you know, let’s go and talk to these people and see if what we’ve got if somebody else has tried do before and didn’t work. And if it is something that the industry needs, how can we work with that organization to bring it to every CPA in the United States?

Glenn Harper

Well, we were at that conference. I wish we’d like hooked up with you there. That would have been kind of fun to to see at that place. I again, there’s nothing more, you know, of the top 3 places you’d probably don’t ever wanna be at is a a a convention of accountants. you know, the dentist association of root canals. You don’t wanna be in anyone or the proctologist office. You don’t wanna be in any of those conventions. And, yes, Here you are.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Yeah. It was it was very interesting. One of the things that made me realize, yes. I’m at a conference with accountants is when the sessions would start at 7 o’clock morning. I was like, wow. This is like military all over again. It’s not like these people come and party all and then start their first session this noon. So

Glenn Harper

Well, you do you don’t want those accounts out with their button down shirts in the short sleeves. the them, the engineers are having a great time. You don’t even wanna be part of that. It’s scary.

Julie Smith

So, Blake, is your you know, you’ve been through your 1st year. What do you see in your next year, your next 5 years? Where are you going? What are you doing? You know, what does this look like?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Well, the one of the two things that we discovered in this 1st year that were really interesting. is the fact that accountants solo practitioners have no succession plan. So unlike attorneys or doctors that are required by their state boards, to have a succession plan if something happens to them, we discovered that accounts don’t have that. And we found that out after our first tax season because we had an accountant in Greenville that actually passed away. And then, you know, basically, it was contacted by his widow to basically help his customer base find new accountants over our platform. So one of our big passions is to be able to allow the 100,000, you know, solo practitioners that peace of mind that they can have a succession plan, and then we wind up actually paying the person for their book of business should be unfortunate happened to It’s crazy. And then and then the other part is developing a platform that is secured that allows accountants to work with other accountants without the fear of losing their clients. A lot of people when we were out at the AICPA told us that they were, you know, there to learn how to outsource or to work with other folks And what we’re doing with the military for providing opportunities to military spouses and military veterans was something that a lot of people we’re taking a lot of notes on instead of having to offshore their stuff to places like Indian Philippines, not that those organizations are great and that they don’t do a good job, but a lot of solo practitioners across the United States would like to be able to do things domestically.

Glenn Harper

Isn’t it funny how accountants, they just say, well, I’m gonna do this forever. You’re gonna have to, you know, I hope to die at my desk, not me personally, but most accountants feel like that, which is the craziest thing. There’s really no other industry like that. They just think they can go forever, so they don’t think about the ultimate end. Is that what you find out?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

No. I think you had stated it earlier. One of the things is you get them really connected to their clients. They feel like they’re almost like clergy working with them or their bartender or, you know, a a component to that person’s family and they know everything about them that as long as they’re capable of providing that service like a doctor, they feel that it’s, you know, their their duty to do so. and, you know, they they get really good at it. They develop those relationships. So they literally think as long as I can, I will continue to, you know, be that accountant, help them with their fiscal matters until I physically can’t anymore. We’ve had a lot of accountants that have joined our platform that have been retired that don’t run a practice anymore, but have a whole lot of knowledge and that are very excited to be on the platform to do some taxes, work with some folks, but not have the burden of actually running a practice anymore.

Glenn Harper

So one of the questions we always you know, people that are entrepreneurs, they, you know, either gonna start a thing and a business, and they’re going to do business where they’re doing all the work. And, eventually, they sometimes decide to build a business and build an actually run a business versus doing the work. And, obviously, you just started off with with what you’re trying to do here with tax titans, but prior to this, in your other businesses, when did you decide that, hey. I need a team to help me do this thing and and not be just myself. And when you did that in your prior business endeavors, did you bring some of people with you to, you know, experiment after experiment after experiment and then finally to tax titans, or is it always been a new team every time you do something?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Some well, there are some people that come over from the other experiences that I’ve had. Like, for instance, you know, my cofounder in the tax titan space had worked with me on another dotcoma Endeavor in which we were doing online video training for sports. So from now aspect when I came up with the idea of tax titans, instead of telling Kurt, the guy that I was doing taxes with, hey. This is something that I’m gonna go do. Thanks for the time here, kinda brought him on board. And as I’ve gone through other people who for lack of a better term, get the vision of what you’re doing is what I’ve looked for in trying to assemble my teams. because whether it be the fencing schools, you know, gaming stores that I’ve had or now with tax titans or another company, Morpheus, it’s always been things that are kinda outside of the box. A lot of people joke around with me that I don’t think it you know, inside the box, I’m always thinking outside of the box of how to get something done. I make the joke that a box is kinda like a coffin. It’s where streams go to die — Mhmm. — so that if, you know, you can think outside of the box for a better way to do it, then you should probably do that.

Julie Smith

So as you’ve went through all of these, you know, endeavors, what is your superpower?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

I don’t quit. I I guess that would be my first superpower. So if I was you know, to have that name of, you know, being a Titan. It’s like, okay, things are tough, things are hard. A lot of people joke at me now about, you know, the long hours, you know, going all and doing all the stuff for the tax industry. I actually got my car wiped out last Tuesday, on the way to Atlanta, got totaled somebody, you know, hydroplained into my car. And the first instance was, okay. I got all these meetings with people like, Gail Crosby. down in Atlanta, I need to get another ride. People are like, how can you, like, focus and do that when you should be, like, worrying about getting your car, getting your rental? taking care of the insurance. And I jokingly tell people it’s like, well, I got up this morning. I’m not in the desert. No one’s shooting at me. So today is a good day, and I need to accomplish something. Every day that I decide to take a day off is the day that there’s a veteran or a military spouse out there that doesn’t have an opportunity and is long as I continue with this path with my team, we’ll be creating these opportunities for these people who have been underemployed, underappreciated, and give them an opportunity to have a life outside of the military in the civilian world that is desperately in an industry that needs more talent. And there is not probably a better demographic of people who are used to working long hours under pressure in getting shit done than military spouses and veterans.

Glenn Harper

So it’s all getting a mission is no quitting, getting the result that you want. Do you do you feel that And, again, trying to trying to tap into and, again, these are for entrepreneurs listening out there. Like, you you you you form your how you roll, what you do, how you look at things, and then how you’re gonna react to those changes that come at you that you have to, you know, pivot and figure out. How how much of this do you think you learned? You know, some people don’t have an entrepreneur mentor to look up to, and I think, you you know, that was your dad. A lot of people don’t have that, so they had to learn it as they went. But you then also had the military, which is a whole different thing because you’re just never quit type of thing. Everybody’s depending on you. Right? You have your role. How what’s your ratio of do you think you you tap into this where you had to again, you wreck your car. You’re like, get up well, you think that your dad experience with you, or you think that’s your military experience peeking out and saying this is what you need to do to complete your mission? Which one it probably is the heavier laden one for you?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Probably the military, but and anything that I think of military, it’s also my father because, you know, his role in the military is special forces guy. I mean, even though being raised by him, his whole get it done attitude was one that was also forged with him. in his military service. So that’s kinda their their you know, they work in tandem with one another where his military experience, which allowed him to be a get it done no matter what the obstacles were is basically now carried over to my own experience in military. which is different because being a military officer, being military enlisted are 2 different experiences for people. And I like to think that I’m blessed because I got to see the extent of both of those roles. So, you know, getting to be a worker b and in management. I’ve I’ve had the the blessing of both.

Glenn Harper

That’s the best.

Julie Smith

So one more question for you. And, you know, what is your end game?

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

The end game for me would be, you know, 7, a private equity firm out of England that bought Drake and tax act that comes up and goes, here’s a $750,000,000. Here’s a $1,000,000,000, and you can go back to teaching fencing and enjoy retirement. It would be the government coming with their $80,000,000,000 that they just gave to the IRS, and they go, hey. We wanna buy your recruiting plan from you, and we’re gonna take the 200,000 active duty service members who are leaving the military every year or the 1,800,000 underemployed military veteran or spouses and give them a job to work within the IRS. As long as the mission is getting done and the problem is being solved, I I’m very happy to go

Glenn Harper

Go back to just teaching fencing full time. You know what’s funny about that? Because it’s not a sign on I’m grinning here because The true entrepreneur that has it kind of figured out, it’s really hard to get there, but it’s never about the money. It’s about the legacy. It’s about your commitment. It’s about something bigger than you, and all those options means that the company will continue You’ll still service not the other clients, that’s important, but your team that you’ve assembled that are doing the work, they’ll always have a place to come in and be gainfully employed, that’s what it’s all about. And that is that is how it’s supposed to be. So congrats on closing that circle on that.

Julie Smith

Well, thank you. I appreciate it. Well, Blake, it’s been a pleasure having you on. I can tell you, oh, wait. Julie has another one. No. Well, I was gonna say, you’re never gonna actually you you say you enjoy retirement, but you said, well, I’m gonna go back to coaching and, you know, maybe some other things. So I I can’t wait to, you know, hear from you in in a couple years and see exactly where you are and what you’re doing because I I think you’re gonna continue to stay busy and not actually be retired.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Well, retirement for everybody means different things. It just means that I’m not trans you know, I’m going all across the United States to, you know, all of the different national organizations, and I’m actually able to stay in one place and and help people, you know, realize their own importance through sports like I’ve been doing

Glenn Harper

for 30 years with all of my fencing students. I mean, if you don’t wanna go around talking to Calend’s all day long, I mean, that’s your choice. I guess you can do that or not do that. I’m I’m okay with it. No. I I I totally get it. Well, I tell you it’s been a pleasure having you on on the podcast here with us, Blake, and we wish you continued success. And, again, you’re On your time entrepreneurial journey, you’re literally, you did a do over. So you’re basically starting it over. You’re only a year to it. So I can’t wait to talk to you in a in a couple years and see where this thing takes off to. So we wish you the best.

Alan “Blake” Blakeborough

Alright. I will I I absolutely would love to be on again and tell you where we are 2 years from now. Awesome.

Glenn Harper

Well, thanks again, everybody, for another edition of empowering entrepreneurs. I’m Glenn Harper. I’m Julie Smith. Take care.

Episode Show Notes

On this episode of Empowering Entrepreneurs, Glenn and Julie are joined by special guest Alan “Blake” Blakeborough, co-founder of Tax Titans. Tax Titans is a company that specializes in helping small businesses and individuals with tax filings, and it is staffed by veterans or spouses of veterans.

During the episode, Blake discusses the lack of networking opportunities for solo practitioners and small firms in the accounting industry, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and camaraderie. Drawing from their military experience, Blake compares the sense of teamwork and support in the military to the need for entrepreneurs to persevere and rely on others to achieve their goals.

Blake reflects on his upbringing, including their father’s entrepreneurial journey and the lessons they learned about adaptability and handling setbacks. They also touch on the importance of finding like-minded individuals who share the same vision when assembling a team.

Additionally, Blake shares his motivation for creating Tax Titans, which stemmed from a need for a platform that allows accountants to connect and work together without the fear of losing clients. They discuss the company’s focus on providing a succession plan for solo practitioners and developing a secure platform for accountants to collaborate.

Throughout the episode, Glenn and Julie delve into various topics with Blake, including his military background, his experience with Drake Software, and the impact of his work with military spouses and veterans. Blake shares his perspective on the value of not quitting and the importance of creating opportunities for underemployed and underappreciated individuals.

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